Friday Grab Bag: Super Bowl prop bets, anyone?

Sure you have purchased a square or two in the office pool and made a friendly wager on the outcome of the game, but that is scratching the surface. Did you know you can bet on how long the National Anthem will be or if the singer will wear gloves? Will the game go overtime?

A look at which are good and bad can be found in a number of places but I liked the ones published in SportsOnEarth and one that was in Football Outsiders as they give some context to what you should and should not do.

Is the Super Bowl a boon on the local economy?
Every year we see a number of time-honored myths rolled out about the Super Bowl. Top day for avocado consumption. No. Top day for spousal abuse. No. That it is a financial boon to the host city/area. Maybe no as well.

A piece in the New York Times points out that since past predictions of prosperity by the NFL were destroyed once the methodology was public the same might be true now. The current estimate, between $550 million and $600 was determined in secret, they will not say who did it or how they arrived at that number. However advertisers are flooding the host city so that they can be seen prior to the event so maybe they know something they are just not telling us.

Winter Olympics broadcast schedule
In case you actually can watch the games from the comfort of your sofa or a cozy corner pub here is a complete viewers’ guide to the events, when they will be broadcast. It should be noted by figure skating fans that the first events take place prior to the opening ceremony.

For a breakdown on what will be interesting as well as the challenges that the broadcaster NBC could face look over to Sports Illustrated and a piece by Richard Deitsch. Will the network let possible bad news from the surrounding area taint its broadcasts?

Why no respect for American soccer players?
With the World Cup now looming on the sports horizon ESPNFC did a piece on why it seems that European based leagues do not value American players and why increasingly that feeling is being reciprocated.

The nice thing about the piece is that it does not jump to a conclusion but points out how different development systems, short earning window and other factors all play in the decisions that players make in where they want to play.

Another black eye for Sochi?
The upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia has received a series of bad news with intolerance, corruption and potential terrorism issues rising to the forefront. Now a recent piece from ABC shows that there could be another piece of bad news on the horizon.

They are saying that one of the key figures in helping Russia win the games over Austria and South Korea was a man named Gafur Rakhimov. The trouble with Rakhimov is that he is considered by U.S. authorities to be one of the top four or five people in the heroin trade and is under indictment in Uzbekistan.

ESPN holding nothing back for tonight’s BCS broadcast


An era ends tonight in college football with the last of the current format championships about to be played between Florida State and Auburn. Next season will usher in a playoff format that is a major change from the current poll-based system.

The current system was introduced in 1998 and now it is gone, but when you look at the freight train of equipment and army of personnel that ESPN is bringing to the event, it will likely live on for quite a long time in the form of multiple digital recordings.

The sports channel is broadcasting the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship game tonight with the biggest broadcast team in its history and has termed it the “BCS Megacast” with it being presented across six of its television platforms as well as its audio and digital outlets.

You can pretty much take your choice of platforms- ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN Radio, ESPN3, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Goal Line and ESPN International. There will be pregame talkshows, interviews, analysis, celebrities and much more available prior to the kickoff at 8:30 ET.

Social and digital media will be strongly represented in the mix with the personalities posting thoughts and comments prior to kickoff as well during the game.

For those that are not able to watch at home or in a comfortable sporting establishment the presentations that were broadcast on the ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPNEWS will be available to a range of alternative platforms via WatchESPN including online at, on smartphones and tablets, through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, on Apple TV and Roku to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.

So how many people and trucks will this take? According to USA Today Sports and ESPN it will be 16 trucks, 63 cameras, 73 microphones a four-engine generator and as many as 200 employees, only a few who you will see online.

Hopefully this will make for a great broadcast, but much of that will depend on the teams. A stinker of a game will lead to fans tuning out as happened a few years ago when Alabama crushed LSU 21-0. The blowout was obvious early and fans tuned out in droves even though ESPN had added some interesting bells and whistles to its broadcast. At that time the future was 3D and ESPN had a 3D broadcast of the game as well as a more traditional broadcast.

However I am looking forward to the game and hopefully in all of the broadcasts comes something that will last to enhance future broadcasts.

ESPN FC on TV Launched Last Night with International Focus


For soccer fans there is a new show called ESPN FC that caters to your needs on ESPN covering a wide array of international leagues and teams including Spain’s La Liga, Major League Soccer, Barclays Premier League and a number of such as the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team.

The programming looks to be an interesting mix of both what is expected such as breaking news, studio analysis and commentary on issues in the sport. However it will also integrated digital content from ESPN’s ESPN Stats & Information Group’s data visualization analysis, as well as incorporating social media. A digital version of ESPN FC on TV will be available on

The show will vary both in broadcast time and focus depending if it is a weekday or a weekend. The Sunday version will run at 12 midnight ET and will be a one hour program that will in part be a weekly wrap as well as analysis of what the events shown will mean looking forward.

Weekdays the show will air as a 30 minute program at 5:30 pm ET on ESPN2 and most days will have a regular featured segment or two such as Americans Abroad on the Monday show or the EPL Weekend Previews that will be shown every Friday.

Every show will have between five to nine analysts/reports covering diverse topics and stories. There will also be a “ESPN FC TV” blog that will contain additional content and extended interviews. There will also be an extra TV segment posted on line daily at ESPN that will focus on viewers’ questions and comments from the show. The company plans to use Twitter extensively, primarily for fan polling.

It is interesting that this comes just a week prior to Fox launching Fox Sports 1 which is expected to also have a solid soccer presence. However ESPN has been steadily enhancing its soccer coverage over the last few years and I suspect that this is just the next logical step for the broadcaster.

Friday Grab Bag: MSG to Close? NASCAR on the Move

Hewlett-Packard may be looking to double down in the tablet space as rumors are emerging that the company, already having re-entered the space, is now looking to head to the low end by offering an affordable $99 tablet.

According to DigiTimes, HP will team with Walmart to sell the 7-inch tablet that HP will have built in China. It will be targeted at the back to school market and will be the second offering in the 7-inch space from the company.

NASCAR on the move-to NBC
NASCAR and broadcaster NBC have signed a multiyear, multi-billion dollar deal that will see the racing league move from its longtime homes of ESPN and Turner Sports, while Fox Sports will maintain its portion of the coverage.

The details of the deal have not been released but Sports Business Daily has said that it is estimated that the deal is 50% greater than the existing deal that was valued at $2.74 billion for 8 years. The new deal will start with the 2015 season.

Will 2022 World Cup move to November?
If you wondered why FIFA awarded the 2020 World Cup to Qatar, a nation that being in the desert tends to be very hot during the summer when the tournament is played you were not alone. Now FIFA appears to be rethinking its clever plan.

Increasingly reports are emerging that the governing body is looking to move the tournament to the fall or winter so that it does not have dozens of players falling from heat stroke. However this will have a huge impact on most of the major European leagues’ seasons so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Nate Silver to ESPN
Stats guru Nate Silver has just moved to ESPN, leaving the New York Times. Silver cut his teeth in sports prior to moving to the Times and developed PECOTA, something that most baseball fantasy players will be aware of.

Hopefully in his new role he can help bring realistic use of statistics to the World Wide Leader. Does anybody really follow its quarterback rating system and does anybody remember its ill-fated productive out stat? Here is an interesting look at some areas he has impacted in the past and could in the future.

Madison Square Garden to close in 10 years?
Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks’ home, is slated to close in 10 years as New York is looking to renovate Penn Station, the mass transit terminal upon which sits the sports arena. Currently Penn Station is the busiest transportation hub in the United States.

The news cannot come as good news to the team which has been in the midst of a 3-year renovation that, according to Yahoo, will cost an estimated $968 million. The team had been applying for a permanent permit for the arena.

Would Proposed A La Carte Cable Bill Hurt Sports Channels?


Senator John McCain is introducing a bill that would enable cable companies to offer subscribers the ability to select which channels they would watch, and pay for and allow them to relegate the remainder to the waste bin.

The push is not his first try at this, he had a similar bill back in 2006 that did go very far, and the new effort, called the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 is designed to encourage the cable companies to offer freedom of choice for their customers.

ESPN and its related channels and packages are one of the more expensive set of channels available, and currently if you get basic cable a nice chunk of your bill gets sent to them. This in turn has allowed it to have a war chest that has seen it increase its power in the sports world by buying broadcast rights. If this passed and a large number of people opted out of its sports channels it would be weakened.

Also the growing number of league channels would also be potentially harmed as well. The rise of the SEC, PAC-12 and other dedicated networks has been helped by their channels getting bundled with other properties, something that the bill would outlaw. Would you pay extra year round to have a network that may broadcast only one sport that you are interested in?

However one interesting thing about the bill is that the unfettering would be voluntary, but does include some incentives to get the major players on board. There are a few sections that do appear to have some teeth in them. One of which is if networks pull their on the air broadcasts and put them on cable they would be stripped of their spectrum and the spectrum would then be sold by the FCC.

There are some other interesting tidbits in the bill including a provision that would prohibit television blackouts at publicly funded stadiums or even stadiums that have used some public funds. I am pretty sure that includes all of the NFL stadiums.

This type of a la carte push has been strongly resisted by both broadcasters and content providers and they will likely launch a strong effort to kill the bill or to at least remove its few teeth.

Friday Grab Bag: Atlantic 10 Inks Broadcast Deals — Microsoft Surface/Windows 8 Date Unveiled

The Atlantic 10 Conference has just closed a pair of broadcast deals that will enable it to maintain a strong presence on broadcast television. The 9-year deal with NBC Sports calls for the network to nationally televise men’s and women’s basketball games on the NBC Sports Network, as well as select local games on NBC Sports Regional Networks. Included will be the ability to live stream games on for mobile users starting next year.

ESPN has also reached a new agreement with the conference, one that will extend the existing agreement to broadcast the conference’s men’s and women’s basketball games, including each conference championship. The agreement will begin with the 2013-14 season and conclude in 2021-22 and will continue to include extensive action on ESPNU.

ESPN’s Atlantic 10 programming will be available across the network’s multiple properties including ESPN, ESPN on ABC, ESPN2, WatchESPN, ESPNU, ESPN3, ESPN 3D, ESPN Mobile TV, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN International, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Classic and

Google/Motorola drops a patent claim against Apple

Motorola Mobility has withdrawn a patent infringement claim against Apple that it had filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission two months ago according to a report in Bloomberg. However it has said that it does reserve the right to refile and that the withdrawal is not due to any agreement between the two companies.

Tablet Global Market sales expected to top $40B this year
Market research firm Global Information has estimated that the worldwide revenue for tablets this year will reach $40.4 billion and that due to a forecast growth rate of 29% year over year it will reach $181.5 billion by 2018.

Tablets have been in the news a great deal lately, with a bevy of new devices hitting the shelves soon from Amazon and Barnes & Noble while the Windows 8 and Apple iPad launches are in the near future. With all of this news it is probably no surprise how well they have been selling.

Samsung wins a small victory over Apple in U.S.
Samsung has convinced the trial judge that heard the case with Apple in the United States to lift the ban on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. The tablet was one of many devices that Apple sought to have banned after it prevailed in its copyright and patent win in US District Court earlier this year.

Major League Baseball reaches 8-year TV deals with Fox and Turner
Earlier this week Major League Baseball announced an 8-year national media rights agreements with FOX and TBS, which coupled with the deal signed with ESPN earlier will make the teams’ owners very happy. The three contracts will deliver $12.4 billion over their life.

The new deals with Fox and Turner will start in 2014 and allows Fox to keep the All Star game as well as the World Series while the League Championship Series and Division Series will be shared across FOX Sports Media Group (FSMG), TBS and MLB Network. A plus for mobile fans is that the deals include a digital “TV Everywhere” rights to stream televised games and other MLB-related programming online and through mobile devices.

Microsoft confirms Oct. 25 for Windows 8 launch
So mark your calendar and prepare your ‘Is this the iPad killer’ story as Microsoft and its allies will be taking center stage in New York City to show you everything from Intel’s Clover Trail microprocessor to Microsoft’s Surface Tablet.

Intel has said that there are over 20 designs in works with its processor for the platform and showed a few last week, with Hewlett-Packard taking the wraps off of its offering earlier this week. Expect more details by the time of the event from other OEMs.

Microsoft to open pop-up stores next to Apple Stores
If imitation is the highest form of flattery Apple should be pleased with Microsoft. It was reported in Computerworld that Microsoft will start opening ‘pop-up’ stores at malls starting Oct. 26. Interestingly that is the day after it introduces Windows 8.

What makes it interesting is that all of these 32 temporary stores, which will be selling the Surface tablets, 29 are in sites that already have an Apple store. I guess customers will be able to get a good comparison that way.